Director: Monthon Arayangkoon
Cast: Sarah Legge, Sonram Teppinat, Daniel Fraser
Year: 2004
Running Time: 108 minutes

“Garuda is a mythical bird with the head and wings of a phoenix and the body and limbs of a man. He is said to be the vehicle of Lord Vishnu. He plays an important role in Hindu and Buddhist mythology. In countries like Thailand, where the national religion is Buddhism, Garuda is revered as a deity”*. The Garuda is part of the Royal Flag of Thailand and is a revered figure and so when this film was made there were some negative rumblings that this was disrespectful – but the film went on to be a hit at the box office

Thailand has a bit of a tradition of monsters in films that usually revolved around their mythical creatures, but this film feels much more like a play for the modern audience that are fans of Japanese Kaiju Eiga films starring Godzilla and Gamera. This isn’t up to the recent films of those two in terms of entertainment or production values, but it still has some fun contained within though it would have felt much fresher if it had been made fifteen years ago. Throw some influences from “Predator” and “King Kong” into this film as well. The main problems with this film though are that the three main characters are more than a little irritating and unsympathetic and there is a tendency of the narrative to eat up time and slow the film to a crawl with side issues around being “Thai” enough.
They are digging deep into the earth in order to build a subway in Bangkok when they come across something strange that is impeding their way*. With evidence that it may be an ancient artifact, they call in a half Thai/half French female archeologist and her male farang co-worker to take a look at it. When these two get to the site though they discover that an elite very hostile military group has been brought on the scene as well – “God Killers” as one of them later describes themselves. The reason for their presence soon becomes apparent as a giant Garuda has been discovered and it doesn’t seem pleased to have been awoken – sort of like me on a Sunday morning - and it is soon hunting them down through the caves and tunnels beneath the earth.
The Garuda though seems to have an attraction for the archeologist though and one can’t really blame it as she (Sarah Legge) is quite attractive when she is not whining. Unfortunately, she spends a good portion of the film doing just that while the farang (westerner) is forced to make dorky expressions throughout the film. This is not a very farang friendly film and even though she is half Thai it’s not Thai enough for the natives. Eventually, the Garuda comes above ground and creates havoc in the city – demolishing much of MBK Center (a very cool mall) and flying through the sky. The special effects aren’t bad, but you know a film is in trouble when the monster is more likable than the humans you are suppose to be rooting for.

* Bangkok is basically built on a swamp and for that reason their metro system – the Sky Train – was built above ground – so the chances of really discovering a Garuda underground in Bangkok are very slight!

My rating for this film: 6.0